The GMT94 Yamaha squad of David Checa, Niccolō Canepa and Mike Di Meglio have lifted the team’s third Endurance World Championship crown at this year’s Suzuka 8 Hour, coming out on top of a close title race despite a drama-filled race for the French team.
Going into Suzuka, the first time that the race has served as the season finale since the series became a winter championship, only a point adrift of reigning champions Suzuki Endurance Race Team, it was an eleventh placed finish that secured them the crown as SERT struggled to a distant 18th.
It was a race of drama for GMT94 too though, with a ride-through penalty in the closing stages of the race for passing under yellow flags – but team boss Christophe Guyot was nonetheless ecstatic after the race
"This result is absolutely fantastic, we are so happy. Of course first of all congratulations to the #21 team who were in another world today. Then I'm very proud because the level of the championship is very high; today it was not possible to battle with our permanent rivals because the title was too important. The only focus was to check on them so we did a safe race.
“We had some little problems with the electronics but that is racing and we are lucky because we didn't have any problems before today, apart from a little stop and go penalty! We have the World Championship title in our pocket and after three consecutive race wins I think we did well. All the Yamaha bikes did an amazing race, but the most amazing has to be the number 21!"
His sentiments were echoed by veteran racer David Checa, who admitted that he didn’t expect to be on the top step after a rocky start to the season eleven months ago.
"First of all, I want to say thank you to my teammates and the whole team because endurance is all about sharing, and when you get to share in victory, it is perfect! We did a really good job together and the result is the championship. We didn't believe that we could win after the Bol D'or because we were 47 points behind, so to win three races in a row is a dream!
“Winning the championship here at the Suzuka and getting to stand on the podium with all the fans here is an incredible atmosphere. I was lucky to be on the podium before here and that was great, but getting to stand here today as World Champions is much better!"
The 2017-18 Endurance World Championship kicks off in September at France’s Bol d’Or at Paul Ricard.